Emefiele To Meet Banks, MTN Over $8.1bn Repatriated Funds Dispute
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, will meet with the representatives of telecommunications company, MTN, and four banks on Tuesday to discuss the lingering dispute over the repatriation of $8.1bn, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
The dispute is over the transfer of $8.1bn of funds, which the CBN said the company had sent abroad in breach of foreign exchange regulations.
The sources, who did not want to be named, said executives from MTN and the four lenders involved in the case, Standard Chartered, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Citibank and Diamond Bank, would hold talks with Emefiele on Tuesday.
The move comes days after Emefiele said the bank might reduce the amount to be repatriated after it had reviewed fresh documents it received from MTN and the four lenders.
“The central bank will be examining these, then it will be escalated up to my level,” Emefiele said, while addressing journalists in London on Sunday, adding that he expected to get the results in a couple of weeks.
The two parties are presently locked in a court dispute over the transaction as the CBN filed a counter-claim on Friday to a court request by MTN, which is seeking to stop the bank from forcing it to bring back the money.
The apex bank also asked the Johannesburg-based mobile phone company to pay 15 per cent annualised interest on the sum until the courts make a judgment, and 10 per cent from then until the whole amount is paid.
Emefiele said the MTN case was a one-off, and the central bank was not looking at transactions involving any other companies operating in Nigeria.
“We respect the sanctity of these companies,” he said.
Emefiele also said Nigeria’s central bank would continue to intervene in the foreign exchange markets, adding that he believed in a stable exchange rate regime.
The apex bank in August had asked MTN Nigeria to refund the sum of $8.1bn it claimed the firm repatriated illegally between 2007 and 2015.
The CBN also imposed a total of N5.87bn on the four banks for allegedly remitting dividends with irregular Certificates of Capital Importation on behalf of MTN Nigeria.
Thereafter, the financial regulator debited accounts of the banks for the funds transfer infringement despite their plea of no wrong-doing.
In response to the allegations, MTN pledged its commitment to Nigeria, saying it remained resolute that “the company has not committed any offenses and will continue to defend its position vigorously.”